Both men and women are image bearers for God. And God did not make one less than the other. 1+1=1
The book makes you think on what God wanted out of us. I have traveled over 46% of the world and have seen the miss treatment of women and even here in the US we think of them less than the whole that they are. God is great read the book and change the way you see people.
Many books are written to inform. Of those, several aim to change the reader's opinion of the given topic. Only a few succeed in forcing the reader to rethink previous assumptions and actually see the world through an entirely new perspective. It takes a special talent to draw a reader out of their shell and get them to really engage with the vision the author is struggling to convey.
In "Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women", Carolyn Custis James gives us a book of this exceedingly rare kind. She has a burden to share and she draws the reader in and delivers her message well. Her book is a riveting account of the trials of women in today's world and a passionate plea aimed primarily at women, to take up the call and make their lives count for the kingdom of God.
Carolyn Custis James builds a case on the creation story of man and women being joint image-bearers for God called to subdue His world. She approaches the text with insight from studying today's patriarchal societies of the Middle East. Her insight into the first few chapters of Genesis, the tales of Ruth and Esther and to several stories in the New Testament is alone worth the price of getting this book. She brings a fresh perspective and makes these passages come alive, yet she is not offering an innovative rewrite that unfaithfully handles God's Word.
This book awakened in me a new awareness of the horrible prejudice and persecution women around the world endure. In India, girls between 1 and 5 are twice as likely to die as boys. They die of neglect and deprivation -- no one cares for girls. And if they do make it into the young teenage years, they are open to being trafficked as a way to get rid of them. The fathers make a little bit of money out of it and get rid of the disgrace that is their daughter. The girls are abused in horrific ways. Not just India, in China a father is quoted as saying, "We don't have to have daughters anymore!" This is his exclamation upon learning of technology that enables sex-selective abortion.
With the backdrop of such a world-wide low view of women, the author approaches the state of women in today's church. She argues that too often our message for women only applies if they have a husband and children, and if their husband is living (or hasn't left them). We ignore other women, and more than 50% of women are not in this class. She doesn't denigrate motherhood, but she challenges us to see that being a woman is so much more than just having a motherhood role.
She stops short of openly challenging a complementarian position. Her message actually is worth listening to, by people on all sides of that debate. There are plenty of ways women can be involved in church-based and other ministry and yet not transgress Scriptural prohibitions. James shows how the very word "helper" (in Hebrew it is ezer) from Gen. 2 which describes the women, is usually a military term and often applied to God's help for Israel. She shows how the language describing the Proverbs 31 women betokens a valorous, military context. She is literally, a "woman of valor". The book calls women to champion the needs of suffering women, to rise up to God's kingdom task of living out the gospel in this fallen world. These messages are needed by women in all kinds of churches.
While I still am bound by the word of God to see some divisions of roles in the home and the church, I was challenged to rethink just how much room and need there is for women to be active participants in the ministry God calls us to. I do think some of the church today is endeared of a traditional view which is not necessarily biblical. Our prizing of the motherly role, which is special (and which Carolyn Custis James seems not to give enough props to), can nevertheless be a message of despair for women who long to have children or long to be married but aren't. Do we communicate to them that they should just sit around and wait, dolefully for Mr. Right? Or do we empower them to serve God with their whole being in a fulfilling way as women?
The book will stretch your mind and cause you to think, but it will be worth it. I encourage you to pick up a copy of this well written, riveting book. I highly recommend it.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Zondervan for review as part of the Half the Church Blog Tour. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
While their may be some dissatisfaction with the author's unwillingness to take a stand on certain issues , I believe she has opened a subject that needs to be faced in the sight of God.
As the heartbreaking stories of many, including young girls, are told, she pushes home the fact that cultural abuse is ramped in this world even today, and is going on unchecked by the church. James is outspoken without apology concerning the role of women in the church. I do not see it as a liberal approach to the Word. As the author explains, scripture is defining women as being created in the image of God and also in full relationship with Christ as His Bride exactly as men are. She is attempting to bring clarity to the role of the male/female team that God strategically set in place.
So as we read "Half The Church", we might wonder is this message cultural or does it truly have Biblical ramifications that are not being addressed? Either way women are not challenged or invited to come along side men for the sake of bringing dignity to all women, young and old. Thus, women in the church are abandoning their gifts to the bidding of those who decide for her.
I suggest this book should be read with seriousness of thought concerning what is missing in our churches. Where is the power of God? Is His Holy Spirit being quenched by our own wisdom?
"Recapturing God's global vision for women." That's what Carolyn Custis James is trying to accomplish with her new book. Starting with Genesis (God's creation of man and woman), she cites Biblical stories and figures that show women have an important part to play in the world. Some may shy away from this book, thinking it is a feminist call for women to be elevated over men in the church, but this is not the case. James is actually calling for the gender debate to be put aside and for men and women to work together as brothers and sisters in Christ, unleashing the true potential of the church.
God undoubtedly created man and woman to be different, but those differences are what makes it important for men and women to work together. Where one is weak, the other is strong. Where one can't lead, the other can.
What off-sets this call to equality are the stories of injustice and blatant horror facing women and girls in countries where they are treated as possessions and less than human. It is a call for us to find our full potential so that we might help them find theirs, through Jesus Christ and the Gospel.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes from Zondervan.